Measurement shake-up could hit outreach work - Museums Association

Measurement shake-up could hit outreach work

Changes to performance indicators could lead to museums cutting back on outreach work
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Rebecca Atkinson
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The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has dropped six performance indicators (PIs) that relate to social inclusion, learning and outreach work.

The move means that from this month, DCMS-sponsored museums will no longer have to report data on the number of UK adult visitors from National Statistics socio-economic groups 5-8 or an ethnic minority; the number of adult visitors who consider themselves to have a limiting long-term illness, disability or infirmity; or the number of children and adults participating in outreach activities outside the museum.

The DCMS said that, following consultation, it had designated two PIs to be key performance indicators. These are fundraising and the number of actual visits to a museum or gallery.

Museums will also continue to supply data for other PIs, including the number of visits by under-16s, the number of overseas visitors and trading income.

A DCMS spokesman said it had removed six of the previous PIs that it considered, in consultation with museums, “too onerous to collect”.

He added: “Feedback from that consultation strongly suggested that museums would value a reduction in the overall number of indicators. This was due to a number of different reasons, including the fact that the process of collating data for the previous list of indicators was costly and time-consuming.” 

Suzie Tucker, head of strategy and delivery at the National Museum Directors’ Conference, said she expected many museums would continue to collect the data for their internal use and to benchmark against each other.

But one national museum director said they feared the changes would lead to some national museums cutting back on outreach work.

The director added: “Just measuring visitor numbers is not good enough, as attracting large numbers of tourists is very different from providing a service to people from low-income groups or with long-term illnesses.

“It is clear that these changes are the result of lobbying from influential national museums that are looking for an excuse to cut back on social inclusiveness and stop bothering with people who need museums but aren’t high spenders.”

Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said: “The National Portrait Gallery remains highly committed to its outreach and diversity work and we will continue to collect this data, as it provides a tool to inform planning and helps us understand the impact of our gallery programme on audience development.”   



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